Avalanche: Cougar Peak Area

Observer Name
Nick Gottlieb
Observation Date
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Avalanche Date
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Cougar Peak Area
Location Name or Route
Cougar Mountain
Slope Angle
Avalanche Type
Hard Slab
Avalanche Problem
Wind Drifted Snow
Weak Layer
Density Change
We encountered a lot more natural activity today than I expected given what I've seen the last couple days. The north bowl of Cougar Mountain had two large slab-avalanches below the steepest terrain. Both crowns zig-zagged from small tree to small tree and the larger one was at probably 300' or more feet wide. Neither ran more than 100'. We didn't go investigate, so just observed from a another part of the bowl, but they looked to be fairly solid slabs, not just the soft storm chunks I've seen sloughing off the last two days. We also encountered two other smaller slides. One was on the east ridge of the same bowl and appeared to have broken all the way up on the ridgeline; it ran all the way into the bowl (3-400'?). The other was visible on a similar aspect ridge further west, also running down the west side of the ridge into a larger slide path. I've skied a lot of north and east facing terrain over the last three days and been up on a number of normally wind-affected ridgelines and found no evidence of slabbing or instability, so this was a bit surprising to me. I think the east (southeast?) winds at the beginning of the storm crossloaded these sub-ridges and the gut of the bowl below Cougar setting up wind slabs that looked like they must've run sometime within the last two days. Things are settling out, I'm sure, but good to be cautious out there right now. Not much instability but it may be hard to detect or in places you wouldn't expect it.

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